Though buzzier than ever in 2019, 3D printing has existed for at least 35 years, beginning with the invention of stereolithography in 1984 and accelerating with the development of fused deposition modeling in 1988. More recently, however, additive manufacturing for series production, paired with an uptick in lower-cost metal 3D printers, has elevated the industrial 3D printing industry to previously unreachable heights.
Beyond being used in the development phase to create functional prototypes and molds, 3D printing technologies are now highly desirable in the aerospace and defense, aviation, and automotive industries for series part production. Increasingly, OEMs in these sectors are learning that additive parts can be more complex in their designs yet more efficient to produce. They’ve also discovered that they can use an additive process to improve a part’s performance and reduce its weight.